Leaside Life readers may recall that last year at this time I attended the TTC’s 2019 Service Plan Stakeholder Meeting (SPSM), part of a roundtable city-wide consultation process to create a blueprint for setting transit priorities in the next five years.
Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure, economic and otherwise, on all of our institutions, the TTC among them. I attended this year’s SPSM, which focused on transit strategies for our so-called ‘new normal’ (or perhaps new ‘abnormal’) circumstances. Many of the earlier goals remain, but their timing and costs are affected.
A number of improvements are being made: there will be more elevators, bike stands and BikeShare availability at subway stations. It was suggested that the two-hour transfer period should be increased to three hours, to permit greater transit use, and make it easier for passengers from Scarborough, Etobicoke and areas farther afield to qualify, especially recognizing the impact of winter weather delays on surface routes. Adding more buses to busy routes would also help to reduce crowding, a major health concern which directly affects ridership. TTC data can now automatically count passengers in transit, identifying where the greatest crowding pressures on the transit system are.
Restructuring existing services is probably the most contentious subject. Whether it’s reducing the number of bus stops along Eglinton Avenue East and other arterials (making the routes speedier, but making bus stops farther apart), or changing bus routes within neighbourhoods, there will have to be much more public consultation to ensure that these changes do not end up reducing access to (and use of) public transit.
Reducing access to transit is an important issue for Leaside. Last year’s TTC proposals to eliminate the 88B bus route would reduce service significantly for much of South Leaside. The TTC has not yet given enough thought to the potential negative impacts. At this year’s SPSM, I asked for a commitment that no decisions regarding changes to Routes 88A or 88B would take place without extensive local consultation. Fortunately, the deferred opening of the Eglinton Crosstown to 2022 has also deferred local surface route changes, providing more time to influence decisions and protect our internal bus routes. But we must remain vigilant.
Ordinarily by this time of year the Leaside Residents Association would be announcing the date and venue of our upcoming Annual General Meeting. But this year is different: much as we would prefer to have an in-person AGM, because of the pandemic, your LRA executive is working on plans to hold our AGM virtually, likely in January. We are taking our lead from other ratepayer groups which have held successful virtual AGMs. In my next column I expect to be able to give you full details and sign-in information so that all can participate.
Our next online monthly LRA board meeting is at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., Nov. 4th. Want to be a deputant, express an opinion, or attend out of interest in Leaside issues? Please contact us (lpoa.ca) by that date, and we will supply you with the details to link to it.